The extreme heat means many local homeless shelters are bursting at the seams, and there's a struggle to be able to afford to keep all those people cool.
The majority of the calls coming in are from single women and mothers with children. Many of them were staying with friends or relatives during the winter, but since the weather is warmer, some have been pushed off the couches they had once occupied.
Scott Wilson has been taking calls for the homeless hotline for the past five years, and this year he said he's seen a big jump in callers, especially over the summer.
"The heat is obviously oppressive in this weather and so is sleeping outside. Sleeping in a car is not an option, so people are looking for somewhere cool to get out of the elements," Wilson, the hotline coordinator, said.
There were 4,557 homeless hotline calls by this time last year. The count is up to 5,459 so far this year, making the number of calls so far this year 17 percent higher.
Christina Patton and her 3-month-old son Zayden were one of the families who made the desperate call for help.
"We didn't have anywhere else to go. We rented a hotel room for a couple of nights. We ran out of money for that and had nowhere else to go. We would have been out on the street. Then we got the hotline number and got right in," Patton said.
Patton was lucky to get a room at City Union Mission because the call volume is up, meaning many of the beds at the nine listed shelters are filling up fast.
"On a daily basis, the operator has to tell them, ‘I'm sorry, there's no space available. Please call back tonight or morning,'" Executive Director/CEO of City Union Mission Dan Doty said.
Doty said 346 calls that came to the homeless hotline this year came out of Wyandotte County, which is where Patton used to live.
"There's really no help over there for people in desperate situations like I was," she said. "Nothing over there."
Patton said she's grateful the City Union Mission helps everyone on both sides of the state line.
"I feel safe, comfortable and feel like it's family here," she said.
Since the shelters are running at full capacity, the cost for utilities and food is way up currently. Just trying to keep the shelters cool for everyone is a big expense, and shelter operators are afraid to see their next electric bill.
Click here to help with donations to shelters such as City Union Mission.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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